Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sky Raiders (Five Kingdoms #1) by Brandon Mull

This is a fun read with nonstop action. Cole is trick-or-treating with his sixth grade friends when they are kidnapped for their "shaping" skills and taken through a portal to another world. The land is named, The Outskirts, one of the five kingdoms that exhibits a unique type of magic. The High King of the Outskirts is looking for Shapers and the best ones come from Earth. Cole and his friends will be sold as slaves and when it is discovered Cole has no shaping ability, a special magical power of creating things out of nothing, he is quickly sold to the Sky Raiders. Cole's gig involves scouting sky castles for magical artifacts. If he can survive 50 missions he can move to a less dangerous job. The only problem is that most scouts die before reaching that goal.

Cole's feels responsible for his friends kidnapping. They didn't want to go trick-or-treating at the house and he talked them into it. When an opportunity arises for Cole to find them, he ends up on an adventure where he discovers people from other kingdoms with different powers and rogue magic. This is the first in a series where more questions come up than are answered. It sets up for the next book that I expect will do more world building and explain the complex dream world Cole finds himself in. As is, this story had an unfinished feel to it.

I found myself enjoying the action but not always understanding the governing structure of the rulers. Each kingdom has a special power and the High King is trying to control all the powers, but I'm not sure what those powers are in every kingdom. The High King doesn't interact with the characters and is an absentee villain. His flunkies do his work for him. There is a romantic triangle between three of the characters that causes them to argue much of the time.

Cole has some latent power that I hoped would flare into existence but that must be in a sequel. The overarching message is Cole must save his friends. The author never quite explores in-depth the illusion of dreams. His alternate world has a surreal feel, but the abstractness doesn't resemble any message. Mull knows how to build worlds and I like his monsters, but it seems there were too many holes in this plot. Guess I'll have to read book 2. I like Mull's writing. It's entertaining and very creative.

3 Smileys

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